Fluffy’s More High-Maintenance Than Most Pets Of His Kind

, , , , , | Healthy | March 23, 2020

(I work at the front desk at an animal clinic that is located on a street with many assisted living facilities. Most of them are not pet-friendly — they may have an office cat but residents can’t have personal pets — except for the largest of them which is right next door and pet-friendly.

We have a deal with the management of this facility where, whenever a new resident moves in with an animal, we set them up as a patient with us, the facility handles all their billing, we send care instructions to them to make sure the residents don’t forget the doses, and when making appointments we contact both the owner and the facility so they can make sure the owner doesn’t have something else scheduled that day and doesn’t forget their appointment.

For the humans who think they are more self-sufficient than they really are, we make sure someone from the facility is available and needs to take “important paperwork” over to the clinic at the same time the owner needs to leave, to make sure they get there and back safely. Sometimes they slip through alone, though, or decide they have an appointment when we don’t have them on the books, so we are used to having random elderly people coming in.

A clearly distraught elderly woman carrying a small dog carrier comes in one day.)

Woman: “Please, you have to help me!”

Me: “What can we do?”

Woman: “It’s Fluffy! He’s not acting right and I think I need to put him to sleep.” *sobs*

Me: “Oh, dear, we’ll get you and Fluffy in to see the doctor and take a look at him to decide if that is the best thing to do, okay? Now, what is your name so I can pull your chart?”

Woman: “It’s [Name I don’t have in my system].”

Me: “I can’t find you on the computer; have you been in before?”

Woman: “Oh, no, Fluffy and I just moved into our new apartment today and you are so much closer than his old doctor.”

(I figure she is so new the facility hasn’t had time to bring us her paperwork, so I get Fluffy’s age and breed and go about making a chart. We’ll get the rest of her information from the facility when we contact them. Thankfully, we’ve had a cancelation so I can get her into an exam room right away.

A while later, she comes out of the exam room with the doctor, with one of our techs carrying the carrier for her, much happier than when she came in.)

Woman: “And you really think it will cure him, Doctor?”

Doc: “If it doesn’t, you just have your doorman give me a call and we’ll get you back in, no charge. Now, I’m going to have my son carry Fluffy home for you. You have a good day.”

(The doctor is referring to our tech who isn’t actually his son, but that’s the code we use to let the front desk know the resident is not paying us directly and to just smile and say goodbye rather than following the normal checkout process. As soon as she and the tech are out of the building I turn to the doctor.)

Me: “So, we’re charging an exam and what else?”

Doctor: “Nothing.”

Me: “So, just the exam?”

Doctor: “No, Fluffy isn’t real.”

Me: “What?!”

Doctor: “He’s a stuffed toy; he’s just been laying around all day for weeks now. So, I told her we were going to try an experimental treatment, and if it works, that’s great, and if not, she can bring him in to be put to sleep later. Then, I drew up some air from an empty vial and injected it. She said he already looks perkier. Poor thing; she is really far gone.”

(Tech returned almost an hour later. The woman wasn’t from the facility next door, or even the one on the other side of them. She was from the one almost all the way down the block, and they had to check into all of them because she couldn’t recall which apartment building she lived in.

To their staff’s credit, they thought she had gone to get lunch with her daughter and her daughter thought her mom was taking a nap after an exhausting morning of moving in. Nobody knew Fluffy had been feeling bad, or that he was capable of feeling bad.  

The experimental treatment worked great for a month, and then Fluffy relapsed and had to come in for another treatment. We gave him his shot once a month for three years, and then one day he just stopped coming in.

Six months later, the daughter brought him in; her mom had become too ill to take Fluffy for his shots so she had just taken him out of the building for a bit and then come back and told her mom he’d had his shot, and now her mom said she couldn’t take care of Fluffy anymore so could we find him a new home. We found him a nice place in the doctor’s office; he’s our supervisor.)

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